"Deliveries of Dead Bodies at the Anatomical Institute of the Reichsuniversität Strassburg between 1941 and 1944"

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Raphael Toledano (Struthof Museum, Schirmeck)

"Deliveries of Dead Bodies at the Anatomical Institute of the Reichsuniversität Strassburg

between 1941 and 1944"

(Introduced by: Ryan Farrell, Oxford Brookes University)



This paper was presented to the international symposium:

"Reassessing Nazi Human Experiments and Coerced Research, 1933-1945: New Findings, Interpretations and Problems"

4 - 7 July 2013, Wadham College, Oxford


Convened by Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes University), Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes University), and Volker Roelcke (University of Giessen).

Kindly funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and the University of Giessen


Abstract: Between November 1941 and November 1944, the Anatomical Institute of the Reichsuniversität Strassburg was headed by the anatomist August Hirt. As an member of the NSDAP, the SS and the Ahnenerbe, August Hirt was involved in various medical experiments made in the KL Natzweiler (Lost experiments) and in the Struthof gas chamber (Jewish skeleton collection). Although his project of Jewish skeleton collection is well known and has been the object of many publications, the delivery of the dead bodies to his Institute in the Third Reich has never been studied. After the war, the French military justice was only interested by the Jewish bodies that were found during the Liberation. We investigated the origins of the dead bodies received by the Anatomical Institute of Strasbourg under National-socialism and tried to find out how August Hirt and his assistants processed to get the corpses. Our main issue was the absence of the body register (Leichenbuch) for this period. A French assistant of August Hirt named Henri Henrypierre had given it to French Army at the end of war but we were not able to find it in the archives. Nevertheless, we were able to use some new material found in the French, German and Russian archives and the manuscript of Henrypierre's memories who gave new indications. Evidence were found concerning soviet prisoners of war whose bodies came from two military hospitals for prisoners of war (Lazarettabteilung für Kriegsgefangene) in Alsace (Strasbourg and Mutzig). We also found evidence of bodies of executed persons received, as French resistant and criminal shot. Among this period, we could identify names of 232 delivered bodies, in addition to the 86 Jews already identified by H.J. Lang. The purpose of these bodies is discussed, as well as their source. This investigation doesn't end the research upon this subject and some questions still remain, such as what happened to the anatomical and histological preparations made with these corpses after the war.


Bio: Raphael Toledano is medical doctor in Strasbourg and member of the scientific council of the Centre européen du résistant déporté (Struthof Museum.



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